Why do icebergs swim

Why does ice float on water?

Have you ever wondered how these big icebergs manage to swim on the surface of the water with almost no effort? We'll tell you why ice can float on water

It falls from the sky as hail, snow or sleet, in the sea it drifts in the form of clods or mountains, meadows and trees are covered in needles or hoar frost: ice can create a wide variety of structures. Scientists distinguish 17 types of ice crystals. Most of them are made artificially in the laboratory. Some species flow like honey. And others, which are created at high pressure, do not even melt temperatures of 500 degrees Celsius!

Why does ice swim in the sea?

Water, especially in its frozen form as ice, has many crazy properties. One of them is that it floats. You have probably seen this yourself often, for example when you throw an ice cube into a glass of water: The cold lump is briefly submerged. Then it shoots up and swims in the liquid.

This is completely normal? No! Drop a tin soldier in molten tin or a candle in molten wax: both sink! And so it is with almost all fabrics. If you cool them down until they set, they'll contract and sink. But water expands when it freezes at zero degrees Celsius. It really puffs up, so much that it can blow up bottles in the freezer and in winter water pipes, even rocks!

Ice floats because of the water molecules

To understand why this is so, we have to look very carefully - at the tiny particles that make up ice: the water molecules. It's best to think of them as little males. Each is made up of three atoms: the oxygen atom, which you can think of as a body. And two hydrogen atoms attached to it like arms.

At the other end of the body, around the place of the legs, there are also two clouds of electrons. The hydrogen atoms and the electrons attract each other like magnets, so the "arms" basically grab the "legs". When it is warm, the water molecules fidget around quickly and get hold of other molecules only briefly, the water remains liquid.

But the lower the temperature, the slower the molecules become. More and more often they succeed in “holding on” to their neighbors - until finally every molecule in the ice is firmly in a lattice and can barely move. Because the molecules always connect to form hexagonal rings, there are large gaps between them: the molecules are less densely packed than in water, the ice expands and swims.